Is 21st Century preaching the fulfillment of a prophecy mentioned in the scripture 2000 years ago?
Indeed it is! Paul told Timothy that ". .the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;" 2 Timothy 4:3.
Listeners in the church today, generally don't want to be offended by messages on hell, the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the ravages on a life that has been immersed in a lifestyle of lawlessness and sin.
I am afraid that in these last days, we have been guilty of watering down the gospel by preaching "felt needs" sermons, dealing with pop-psychology, social gospel — and other subjects that are non-offensive. Not that we intentionally want to be offensive, but when we deal with the whole counsel of God, with subjects like, God's judgement falling on corrupt cities and nations, the reality of hell fire, how sin eventually ravages a life, and the chastening hand of God - just to mention a few, the pure, unadulterated gospel of Christ does offend! It's abrasive! And it will bring conviction to the hearer. It will bring fear to an individual who will be made to realize their sins will eventually "find them out" and end them up in eternal torment. That's what the gospel will do when it is addressed faithfully. And it doesn't conform to the church growth industry which wishes to downplay the gospel in order to, like the pied piper of Hamlin, march them comfortably, into the church in droves.
And as a result of soft preaching that tickles the itching ears of modern-day people, I'm afraid we have raised up a generation that has trouble handling "thus saith the Lord."
In the advent of the church growth movement, a generation ago, somehow we were sold a bill of goods that if we are going to get the unchurched to darken our doors, we are going to have to make church more palatable -- make it comfortable for them -- no different from retail stores, movie cinemas and shopping malls?
Making hearers of the gospel feel good wasn't a mandate of the Great Commission. Jesus has not commissioned the church to go into all the world and entice — to "soft-soap" the gospel, to make people feel good — to give them a non-offensive sermon. To study the life of Christ is to see a life balanced with overwhelming love and compassion for the sinner, and hard truth for the hypocritical legalistic religionist. John the Baptist minced no words when he called them a generation of snakes. Jesus commissioned the church to "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." That means, teaching people what scripture says about how to live, how to avoid temptation, the dangers of falling into sin, and the reality of God's dealings with the depravity of man and the reality of impending eternal doom for one who rejects the call of Christ.
May God forgive us as a church, for the times we made it our goal to make people feel good, and comfortable on their road to hell. If you visit the doctor, and he finds a malignant mass in your body as he studies the x-rays, he would not be much of a doctor if he tried to water down the diagnoses to you in order to make you feel good, and comfortable rather than to tell you the harsh truth. Likewise, the church is rendering an awful injustice if it fails to warn people of the consequences of sin.
I do want to deal with the compassionate side of God as I preach, but I also have a grave responsibility to preach the whole counsel of the gospel, and that includes telling the hard truth about the prospect of spending eternity without God. And also, (are you ready for this?) when the unadulterated truth of scripture is dealt with, it will seldom align with political correctness which, like cancer, has ravaged our culture.
But on a positive note, we also want people to know God loved them enough to send His Son to die for them. We also include God's forgiveness for sin when we preach. When people are brought to a place of conviction after hearing the unadulterated truth and surrenders their lives to Christ, He will give them eternal life, and will forgive all sin, and establish that person on a life of abundance and joy.